How SMEs can leverage technology for employee appreciation

Small-business owners have faced what is likely to have been their most challenging year to date. They’ve adapted, pushed themselves to the limit and adjusted their expectations to survive 2020. However, it’s not just business owners that have felt the pain through the pandemic, employees have also had to adapt and make sacrifices during this time.

Given that small business employs over 4.7 million people and 41 per cent of the business workforce making it Australia’s biggest employer – it is important to consider their crucial part in not only supporting an individual business but the impact they have in our overall economy. Small business employees are a substantial workforce that are truly worth appreciating.

How SME owners approach rewards and appreciation for their employees may vary, keeping in mind that this doesn’t have to just be in financial form. Given the recent move to digital that many have made, exploring how to express this gratitude via technologies could be a good and affordable option for SME owners.

Here are some tips and advice around useful technologies for SME operators who want to show their appreciation for their team.

1. Put your team’s wellness at the forefront

Looking after your team’s mental health is a huge part of showing how much you appreciate them. So, why not explore digital wellness programs, apps and podcasts that you can share with your team. Rather than suggesting a variety of apps, choose one to advocate across the business. There may be opportunities to practice some of the app’s benefits as a group such as meditations and breathing exercises. Examples of apps include Smiling Mind, Reach Out Breathe, Optus Fitness and 7 Minute Workout.

2. Easy access to HR and benefits

Implement digital HR platforms that your team can access around the clock. Every employee will have their own digital profile where their personal information, training, future planning and accolades will be stored. The best part is that platforms such as Flare HR are free and offer rewards that you can provide your team such as discounts with major retailers and providers. You can also send digital vouchers directly from the platform to your employee’s profile. Other platforms include Employee Hero and Bamboo HR.

3. A virtual passport to international inspiration

While we may not be able to travel internationally, a big win from COVID-19 is that some of the world’s best events and conferences are now virtual – meaning that you can now give your team easy access to some of the world’s most insightful leaders. Create a calendar filled with ongoing major and smaller events.

4. Give your team a voice

Source team feedback from online pulse surveys to measure the health of your business in regards to responsibilities, satisfaction, culture and communication. Conduct these regularly so that you can measure and compare results, and make changes based on what is winning with employees and what needs improvement. Employees will feel appreciated as they have a platform where they can be heard. They can be comfortable in being honest with their feedback. Example tools include SnapComms and PeakOn.

5. Employee inspiration

Finally, above all else, say “thank you”. Consider a monthly pre-recorded update to share all of the achievements and challenges that you have overcome as a business. Take this opportunity to share your thanks, offer insights and business direction for the month to come, and inspire the team for the next steps. Share via email or if you have an internal social media channel such as Yammer, this is perfect for your team to comment or post questions, too.

Libby Roy, Managing Director, Optus SMB